MP for Borissov’s GERB party quits politics over Haskovo controversy

Delyan Dobrev, an MP for Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party and who was a cabinet minister in Borissov’s first government, announced on October 1 he was resigning from Parliament after sustained attacks from the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party over alleged nepotism in Haskovo municipality.

Dobrev, who was economy, energy and tourism minister in Borissov’s 2009 cabinet, said he was resigning as head of the National Assembly’s energy committtee, from Parliament itself and all other party positions, but would remain a member of GERB.

He said that he would take court action against BSP MP Elena Yoncheva for the allegations that she had made against him, which he said were untrue.

A few days earlier, GERB announced that it was withdrawing its confidence in Haskovo mayor Dobri Belivanov. GERB parliamentary group leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov said that the mayor had failed to meet the party’s expectations regarding the promises he had made during the 2015 municipal elections.

Belivanov responded that he was not distancing himself from GERB but from Dobrev, who he alleged had created “ridiculous tensions” in Haskovo municipality.

Allegations were that Dobrev had put pressure on the municipal leadership to make a number of senior appointments, some on the basis of supposed nepotism and business connections. Dobrev rejected the allegations but was reported to have said that he had been behind appointing a “dream team” at the municipality.

In an interview on October 1 with public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television, confirming that he was withdrawing from all posts and from active politics, Dobrev said that he had spoken to Borissov on Sunday morning to inform him of his decision.

He said that he had come under sustained attack, even though “I tried to explain that this was not th truth.” The country had been shaken by “Ms Yoncheva’s lies”, according to Dobrev.

“That’s why I think it (the country) should not longer concerned with this topic. They succeeded in this attack in me. Sometimes, in fact, very often, in politics, the truth is not what is most influential.”

Dobrev said that he had told Borissov and Tsvetanov that his resignation was the “right thing to do”.

In the course of the controversy in recent days, the opposition socialist Coalition for Haskovo in the municipality demanded the mayor’s resignation, the dissolution of the council and fresh elections. In the National Assembly, the BSP and GERB traded allegations that companies close to the other party had been winning public procurements in Haskovo municipality.

Dobrev said that he was taking court action against Yoncheva for an organogram that she had showed in Parliament and in the media alleging that key positions in Haskovo municipality were held by Dobrev’s relatives and business associates.

Yoncheva said on October 1: “It was not an attack on Mr Dobrev, it was an attack on the Dobrev scheme. The resignation shows that everything that I said was true”.

She said that many of the “sanctified” practices in Haskovo may not be illegal, but they were not moral. Yoncheva said that she suspected that such things happened in every Bulgarian city.

“When you point out some jiggery-pokery to GERB, they threaten you with court. They try to intimidate every attempt to show how corrupt this country is,” Yoncheva said.



Clive Leviev-Sawyer

Clive Leviev-Sawyer is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe. He is the author of the book Bulgaria: Politics and Protests in the 21st Century (Riva Publishers, 2015), and co-author of the book Bulgarian Jews: Living History (The Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria 'Shalom', 2018). He is also the author of Power: A Political Novel, available via, and, on the lighter side, Whiskers And Other Short Tales of Cats (2021), also available via Amazon. He has translated books and numerous texts from Bulgarian into English.